Participatory Task Modelling

Participatory Task Modelling (PTM)[#ONeill2004] is a method for building understanding of how users view their creative processes. PTM combines user participation with task analysis, guiding users to produce models describing their current and envisaged tasks. PTM has been found to be useful in providing avenues to refine and validate theoretical aspects of designing systems for creative music composition [#Coughlan2009], as part of a wider participatory design process. The method has been adapted to allow further reflection between groups, where possible. This preserves individual groups collaborative creative process, for instance a band will be kept together for most parts, but in new reflection and sharing periods groups mix to analyse each others process, and propose adapted models of collaboration.


  1. Each participant fills in a questionnaire describing their background.
  2. Individuals are asked to produce a model of their creative process.
  3. The group is divided in to sub-groups, and individuals are asked to explain their model to the other people they are with.
  4. The sub-groups produce a model of how they collaborate together if they had previously done this, or how they could conceivably collaborate together if they had not.
  5. Sub-groups are asked to compare their processes as a group and look towards describing a general model of collaboration.
  6. Participants are asked to define and discuss where and how computers could be useful or problematic in their creative process, using the models they will produce.
  7. Participants are asked to produce paper prototypes of new systems they feel would be useful to them. They are asked to utilise their models in this process, and given two themes to focus on: Systems for collaboration, and Computers in music creation.

Eamonn O’Neill and Peter Johnson. 2004. Participatory task modelling: users and developers modelling users’ tasks and domains. Proceedings of the 3rd annual conference on Task models and diagrams: 67–74.

Tim Coughlan. 2009. Understanding Creative Interaction : A Conceptual Framework for Use in the Design of Interactive Systems for Creative Activities. Thesis.